Brittany Runs a Marathon, or: Feeling Good As Hell

This week we review a film that I’ve seen twice now and honestly really love. Spoiler alert – I’m going to be doing minimal snarking about this one because actually it’s quite lovely. And Jillian Bell is a knock out who should lead more films. Just sayin’.

Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)

A young woman decides to make positive changes in her life by training for the New York City Marathon.

Director: Paul Downs Colaizzo
Stars: Jillian Bell

*Spoilers*

Brittany is not in the best place. She’s a greeter on the door of a Broadway show and lives with her narcissistic social-media loving BFF Gretchen (Alice Lee). The pair party hard, and B abuses Adderall, drinks heavily and makes poor personal choices. She lacks focus in her own words and when she visits the doctor, to get her hands on her own Adderall prescription, he tells her her BMI is too high and he’s worried about her blood pressure. Off the back of this visit to the GP, B is tasked with losing around 55lbs, which she cracks is “the weight of a Siberian husky.”

NOTE: This film is definitely triggering. There is a lot of focus on diet and losing weight to become a better, more successful person.

“You want me to pull a medium-sized working dog off of my body.” ~ Brittany

When she tries to join a gym, she realises how expensive it is and decides to try running outdoors because it’s free. After her first attempt she breaks down in tears and receives a visit from her neighbour Catherine (Michaela Watkins), nicknamed Moneybags Martha by B and Gretchen.

Despite Catherine’s attempt to bond, the visit doesn’t go well and B resents being pitied by her neighbour who, in her eyes, has a much easier life than she does. Nevertheless, when Catherine mentions a running group she’s part of, B reluctantly shows up.

At running club, B becomes (kind of but not really) friends with Catherine and also makes an ally in Seth (Micah Stock) who, like B, isn’t a natural athlete and is only really running to make his son and husband proud. After a successful 5k, the trio make a pact to train for and then run the New York City marathon together the following November. As she gets better at running and the pounds start to drop off, B finds a second job, starts dating and meets fellow dog/house-sitter Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), who curates her dating profile for her.

B also finds herself drifting apart from Gretchen who doesn’t really support the changes she’s been making. In fact she is continually belittling our girl and trivialising her new interests. When Brittany declines a night in on the booze and ice cream, Gretchen lashes out at her telling her she’ll always be a fat girl.

Jern and Brittany start banging – and things are pretty good – until B doesn’t get a place in the marathon and has to raise the money herself. When Catherine presents her with a cheque for a place on the starting line, Brittany freaks out and rejects the offer as ‘charity’, something she just can’t abide.

She starts avoiding Catherine and Seth so can’t even turn to them when she puts on weight and suffers a stress fracture from pushing herself too hard trying to shift it. Her doc tells her she definitely won’t be able to run in the marathon or do anything too physical for at least six weeks.

This throws her into a panic as she laments returning to her fat self. As she grows increasingly distant from her new friends and her fuck-buddy-or-is-he-more Jern, Brittany gets fired and retreats to her sister’s home in Philadelphia to lick her wounds.

At a birthday party for Demetrius (Lil Rel Howery), her sister’s husband and the man who pretty much raised her, Brittany behaves abysmally towards a fat woman and her thin boyfriend. Full of regret in the morning, Demetrius gives her what for, making her see that she needs to learn to let people help her – and to stop blaming all her problems on her weight.

Can Brittany learn this valuable lesson and sort it out once and for all? I think, with a little help from the people who care about her, she just might…

Again, Jillian Bell is brilliant – and makes Brittany very real and likeable. Even when she’s being a brat and a bitch, you can understand her pain.

My favourite part is the bit in which the large woman Brit’s been mean to gets in touch and explains that she understands where she’s coming from – but has made the choice to be happy. It made me cry. I also shed a few for Brittany as she finally gets to live her dream and is encouraged not to give up by her cheering squad.

I really like this film and it does try to be sensitive about fat and body positivity in some ways, it’s just a shame that Brittany follows the typical weight loss journey to finally realise her potential. It would have been nice if she’d run the marathon as the bigger version of herself or bucked the notion that being thin makes her worthy.

There’s a lot to unpack from this one based on the fat issue but I still liked it.

4/5

What does my favourite Jillian think of this one? Would she shame it for having love handles or encourage it to the finish line? Find out here.

Last Christmas

Me: “I’m not going to review as many films anymore…”
Also Me:

Last Christmas (2019)

Nothing seems to go right for young Kate, a frustrated Londoner who works as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. But things soon take a turn for the better when she meets Tom — a handsome charmer who seems too good to be true. As the city transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, Tom and Kate’s growing attraction turns into the best gift of all — a Yuletide romance.

Director: Paul Feig
Stars: Emma Thompson, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Yeoh

*Minor spoilers*

It’s funny how much we can forgive in the name of Christmas spirit, huh? This Paul Feig Christmas movie is enjoyable for a second but it definitely doesn’t hit the notes of The Holiday. It’s no Love Actually – it’s not even The Family Stone.

Maybe my hopes for it were a little too high. All I know is that both the central characters were annoying twits. I haven’t always been wowed by Emilia Clarke but I do enjoy watching her and she was as gorgeous as ever as self-destructive Kate. Her eyebrows do the most of the acting work though, they’re here, there and everywhere.

Golding’s Tom is 2D as they come and I don’t understand why I’m supposed to give a shit about such a condescending character. Stop telling everyone to “look up” you boring prick – let them live. None of this is a good sign when you’re expected to invest in their burgeoning ‘love’ story.

Thankfully, the supporting acts are the movie’s saving grace (and London by night, obvs). Some of the characters we meet down at the homeless shelter are priceless, including Kate’s fellow volunteers and her father Ivan (Boris Isakovic) is a laugh riot. The true stand-out for me though is Santa, Kate’s Christmas-loving boss (Michelle Yeoh), that woman lights up the screen more than all those Christmas lights combined. Thompson delivers as per but considering she also has writing credits, why is this so bland?

I guessed the hidden premise half way through which is very unusual for me. It’s so damn literal! And honestly, there’s not much to the rest of the movie. Somewhere in this mess is a message about Brexit and being there for our fellow man in unity, rather than pushing everyone away and I liked that. Especially at Christmas.

I also like the idea of a messed up individual putting their life back together, one brick at a time, with or without a terrible illness to motivate them. It’s just a shame that Kate (or Katarina) is more fun when she’s being a thoughtless little tramp.

Judge for yourselves, I guess. Maybe I’m just dead inside. (I know I’m not though because despite everything I still did a teeny cry every time a George Michael song came on.)

2.5/5

What are you watching?

Earthquake Bird

Earthquake Bird (2019)

An enigmatic translator with a dark past is brought in for questioning after an ex-pat friend, who came between her and her photographer boyfriend, ends up missing and presumed dead.

Director: Wash Westmoreland
Stars:  Alicia VikanderKiki SukezaneKenichi Masuda

*Spoilers*

This is a film that should have been so much better. The premise is actually pretty fantastic and I was well up for an ex-pat in Japan murder mystery – unfortunately it does fall a little flat. I don’t think it’s really anyone’s fault – the central performances are fine – the set pieces are lovely and Japan continues to be utterly beautiful.

The landscapes here seem a little more subdued than they usually appear on film. Sure we get some neon lit karaoke bars but for the most part the backgrounds are low key and functional, the apartments no frills. I think you could probably say the same about the characters.

We centre around translator Lucy Fly (Vikander) who begins a relationship with local photographer Teiji (Naoki Kobayashi). Things are fine enough until Lucy starts to show signs of suspicion, breaking into Teiji’s apartment and going through his things. When she finds a file of photographs of his old girlfriend, she torments herself with questions about their relationship.

These feelings of jealousy are exacerbated further when she meets Lily (Riley Keough), a young American woman. When she is persuaded to help Lily find an apartment, the trio grow closer and Lucy is not amused to note that her new friend and boyfriend appear to be attracted to each other. When she shows her jealous side, Teiji encourages it because she is his “girlfriend, after all”.

Lucy is should be said is rather a buttoned up person and at times, and as we learn, an unreliable narrator. That means that the whole sorry tale as it unravels might not even be the truth and we never really know whether we can trust her version of events. The story is unpacked across two timelines, the ‘present’ (e.g. Lucy being interrogated by police who have found the remains of a woman who may or may not be Lily) – and flashback, in which we are party to the development of this awkward love triangle.

The main question is: is Lily dead and did Lucy do it? 

This does go on quite a big longer than necessary but there are some nice moments. I enjoy the concept of blame and responsibility – and as I mentioned, I really love how late 80’ Japan looks. There’s also a very shocking scene involving a freshly waxed staircase that I can’t get out of my head – so this is probably memorable for the wrong reasons.

3/5

What are you watching?

Dolemite is My Name

Alas this wasn’t our first choice but it turns out the UK is trailing behind the US when it comes to some new releases and so here we are. It’s plain rude, frankly but I’m not dwelling on it – The Nightingale will have its time.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by this bio of real-life visionary Rudy Ray Moore which boasts a wicked cast and had me to the very end of it’s hefty run time.

Dolemite is My Name (2019)

Eddie Murphy portrays real-life legend Rudy Ray Moore, a comedy and rap pioneer who proved naysayers wrong when his hilarious, obscene, kung-fu fighting alter ego, Dolemite, became a 1970s Blaxploitation phenomenon.

Director: Craig Brewer
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps

*Spoilers*

Los Angeles, 1970s and Rudy Ray Moore (Murphy) is a record store employee and struggling recording artist/stand-up comedian. He begs the store’s in-house DJ (Snoop Dogg) to play his records which he refuses to do, favouring instead the dulcet tones of Marvin Gaye. One day a homeless man comes to the store and starts ranting in rhyme, one of his proclamations features someone called ‘Dolemite’.

Rudy gets the idea to create an onstage persona, inspired by this exchange – he dresses as a pimp with a cane and takes to the stage with a crude set he’s written called The Signifying Monkey. The club crowd loves it and people finally start to take notice of Rudy and his unique brand of talent. This leads him to approach his aunt for the $250 he needs to record a comedy record – called Eat Out More Often – which he’s forced to sell out of the back of his car when he refuses to clean up his act for the one producer who shows an interest.

The album, of course, proves very popular within the black community and a record company picks it up, promising to market it in stores. On his ensuing national tour, Rudy meets the amazing Lady Reed (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) who joins his act. While visiting another city on tour, Rudy and his friends decide to go to the cinema to let off some steam. Eager for something to laugh at, they settle on Billy Wilder’s The Front Page. Unfortunately, none of them find it remotely amusing or relateable, while the mostly white audience think it’s a scream – and it is here that Rudy decides they’re going to make their own movie.

Despite zero movie making experience and multiple funding knock backs, Rudy manages to convince his label to finance the movie using an advance on the royalties from his latest album. He plans to star as central character Dolemite himself. The movie, also called Dolemite, is a kung-fu Blaxploitation movie. With the help of reluctant playwright Jerry Jones (Key) and even less enthusiastic Rosemary’s Baby actor D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes), Rudy rounds out his creative team. He also brings in a crew of college students to shoot the movie and takes over an abandoned hotel with no running water or electricity.

To say they’ve got their work cut out is an understatement and Dolemite is My Name centers around their efforts to get the film made and then distributed. It’s a pet project of such determination that you just can’t help being caught up in it. I rooted for the whole crew from the get go. The film is reminiscent in subject matter (kind of) to The Disaster Artist and the sheer single-mindedness of Rudy is not unlike that of real-life Tommy Wiseau.

I’m not always Eddie Murphy’s biggest fan to be honest but I did very much enjoy him in this role. He seems more at home in more adult roles and it’s refreshing to have him playing just the one character, rather than every character. I have massive love for Keegan-Michael Key and Craig Robinson (who I find crazy attractive). It was also nice to see Tituss Burgess again, Titus Andromedon is everything to me. The film has real heart and the real-life Rudy must have been an incredible man.

I enjoy movies about underdogs that come out on top in the end – and this is a shining example of that sub-genre. It’s also fascinating to learn more about a man and a film I never would have ordinarily. Being a middle-aged white woman and all. Perhaps one day Jill and I will find and review Dolemite on these very blogs. It has an all-female kung-fu army after all, what’s not to love?

4/5

What does my own superstar think of Dolemite? Would she shoot a chaotic love scene with it or refuse to fund it any longer? Find out here.

B•F•R•W•W – The New Digest

The things I am currently digging in five easy categories – Bingeing (TV), Feeling, Reading, Watching (Films), Writing.

Bingeing

There’s a lot going on TV wise this Autumn/Winter but the most exciting is Pose Season 2 which has already succeeded in making me sob like a baby five minutes into the first episode. I’m trying not to smash the whole series in a day but it’s very moreish.

This season is centered around Madonna’s Vogue record, inspired by the NY ballrooms – House ma Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) is convinced this will bring the community mainstream acceptance while Pray Tell (Billy Porter) has seen it all before. Both are dealing with the HIV epidemic and fighting for their human rights – while Elektra (Dominique Jackson) is enjoying the spoils of her new (so far secret) career and Angel (Indya Moore ) is taking the fashion industry by storm. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend this amazing show – it is everything.

Obviously I’m all over Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK as well. Team Divina all the way.

Also watching: WatchmenSwamp ThingThe Young OffendersCreepshow

Feeling

I’ve decided not to fight Christmas this year – so I’m feeling festive. I didn’t get it at all last year so honestly fuck it, why not ride the wave with everyone else? My manager has already put up her tree and I’ve so far watched more Christmassy flicks than I care to admit – I’m saving Love Actually (2003) and The Holiday (2006), don’t worry. I’m thinking of making my own Christmas cards too – which is frankly obscene.

It’s also my birthday in just over a week and I wasn’t going to do anything but got talked into at least having an intimate dinner so there’s that to look forward to. There are six of us and I’m going to put on a new dress and false lashes – and enjoy the excellent company. I know I’m loved and completely blessed – and I am forever grateful for my loved ones.

Reading

Yes I’m reading more Stephen King – it’s the perfect time of the year for spooky and Christine is a wonderful story. My horror soulmate Matt is reading it at the same time and the regular check-ins with each other are the best bit. I will admit to finding this slow going though. It’s not Christine’s fault – I love it when I dip in – I think it’s honestly because the book’s so physically heavy, and it’s harder to read in the tub (my prime reading place).

I promise to review it when I’m done.

Also reading: My Favorite Thing is MonstersBuffy (Comics)

Watching

I’ve just re-watched Nerve (2016) on Amazon Prime, which was a lot better than I remembered – and I bloody love Emma Roberts. I’ve filled you in on Doctor Sleep which was v. good and of course, my shameful Christmas consumption.

My next cinema visit is to see Last Christmas with Helen on Tuesday – which I feel will be the final ingredient needed to get me feeling appropriately festive. I’m pretty sure I’ll be ruining my make-up for Emilia Clarke and I’m cool with it. Crying is cathartic, yo.

Also watching: Before I Wake (2016) • Gerald’s Game (2017) – I’m very much having a Mike Flanagan revival.

Writing

I wrote this, didn’t I? That’s about it on the writing front, unless you count the assessments I’ve done for my advanced Wicca course which is so fun. I’m loving it. I’ve submitted my first four assessments and come out with a 97% pass rate so far. I’m considering doing Astrology and Tarot next.

What are you up to?

Doctor Sleep

I’m introducing mini reviews to the blog for the films I really enjoy and first up is this really rather decent adaptation of Mr King’s novel of the same name.

 

Doctor Sleep (2019)

Years following the events of “The Shining,” a now-adult Dan Torrance must protect a young girl with similar powers from a cult known as The True Knot, who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.

In the hands of Hill House‘s Mike Flanagan I knew this wouldn’t be rubbish but I was surprised by how much I liked it. The book (which admittedly I might read again) was quite meh and I could barely remember most of it. So I was happy to have it brought back to me by one of my favourite horror directors and a pretty solid cast.

It must be said that Rebecca Ferguson‘s Rose the Hat is the stand out of the piece, bringing real evil to the character while still encouraging you to kind of root for her. I mean, the Baseball Boy scenes are horrifying and testament to the fact she ain’t messing around – but there’s real love between The True Knot who are just like a genuine family. Plus, I like Rose a lot more than I like Danny and Abra. LOL.

Obviously the revisit to The Overlook is the money shot and the director’s respectful attention to detail is really something. We revisit beloved characters from The Shining, both central and sideline – and it is magical.

Flanagan is definitely not Kubrick and he’s not trying to be. His own signature style really suits this story and I’m all over his take on the hotel.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this movie since I saw it yesterday and I don’t really have many negatives. I didn’t warm to Abra much and Dan Torrance was fine but I really enjoyed spending time with The True Knot. The fantasy elements are sublime too – the segment in which Rose the Hat goes searching for Abra in her mind is breathtaking and very effective.

Colour me impressed.

4.5/5

What have you been watching?

Tigers Are Not Afraid

This week’s pick is something I heard about on a horror podcast and have had on my list for some time. It’s a pretty brutal fantasy horror which frankly, is right up my street but might not be your cup of tea if you’re averse to children being fatally harmed. Which would be fair enough.

Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)

“A dark fairy tale about a gang of five children trying to survive the horrific violence of the cartels and the ghosts created every day by the drug war”

Director: Issa López
Stars: Paola Lara, Juan Ramón López, Nery Arredondo

*Lots and lots of spoilers*

Estrella (Lara) is a young girl living in a Mexican city devastated by the infamous Mexican Drug War. She’s at school learning about fairy tales when class is dismissed indefinitely due to violent gunfire outside the building. Amid the panic of the incident, the students and teachers are forced to dive for cover.

While on the floor, Estrella’s teacher gives her three pieces of chalk and tells her they will grant her three wishes.

Meanwhile, on the streets Shine (López) steals a gun and an iPhone from the henchman of crime boss Chino (who is actually well-known politician Servando Esparza). The henchman, Caco is fucked out of his nut so doesn’t notice the mugging or the fact that Shine seems keen to blow his head off. Luckily for Caco, Shine can’t pull the trigger.

Following her eventful day at school, Estrella returns home to find that her mother is nowhere to be found. She waits for days for her to return and grows increasingly worried/hungry. She fears her mother has fallen victim to The Huascas, a human-trafficking ring masterminded by Chino. She wishes that her mother would return and that night suffers horrible haunting visions of her.

The ghost implores Estrella to “bring him to us”. Later she catches Shine looting her apartment. When she confronts him, he shouts at her that her mother is dead.

Estrella follows Shine to his make shift home where he lives with his friends, other street orphans called Morro, Tucsi and Pop. Morro is super, super young and carries a toy tiger. She tells the boys that she’s hungry. Shine tells her he doesn’t care about her and is very anti having a girl around. Estrella sticks with the boys though and in particular, bonds with little Morro. Shine still has hold of the phone he stole (it has a photo of his mother on it) but by now it has become clear that the cartel know he has it and they vow to get it back at any cost.

When Morro is taken, Shine gives Estrella the gun and tells her if she kills Caco and gets him back, she can stay in the gang. She doesn’t want to do this but is eventually persuaded. She breaks into Caco’s apartment but wishes that she doesn’t have to kill him. When she approaches she realises he’s already been murdered. Estrella lets off the gun anyway and allows the boys to believe she’s killed him.

The kids are forced to go on the run when Caco’s brother comes after them and they start to wonder what’s on the phone that’s got their knickers in such a twist.

A lot goes on but the gist is that Morro is killed accidentally, the kids make a deal with Chino – to hand over the phone if he calls off The Huascas – and Shine finds a video on the phone of Chino murdering a woman. While the children deal with the loss of Morro, Chino reveals that he was the one that murdered Caco, thus revealing Estrella to be a flaming liar. Shine is particularly angry with her and the boys shun her.

Alone in the abandoned building the kids have been calling home, Estrella is once again haunted by ghosts, this time all the victims of Chino and his gang. They implore Estrella once again “bring him to us” – I think they want you to do something for them, love.

When the boys bury Morro, Estrella is lead back to them by Morro’s ghost.

The kids meet up with Chino and he holds up his end of the bargain, however Shine has worked out that the woman in the murder video is Estrella’s mother and he wants to tell her. He gives Chino a fake phone and he in turn murders every one of his henchmen.

In return for Shine’s kindess/honesty, Estrella uses her last wish to grant him what he wants – for her to remove the facial scar he sports from the tragic fire that also stole his mother’s life. She’d been reluctant up until now, convinced that each of the wishes has lead to something bad.

She’s not wrong though and she finds herself alone again (Tucsi and Pop are long gone, Shine is dead) and running from Chino who has worked out the double cross. Estrella is guided by Morro’s toy tiger to the room in which her mother was killed.

She finds a pile of hideously decaying corpses but tricks Chino into the room where the ghosts, including Shine have their way with him.

This film is truly gorgeous with some wonderful supernatural/fantastical imagery. Morro’s tiger is wonderfully animated, while there are some really effective scares. Every one of the children are brilliant, their gang is one you really warm to quickly. Shine is a very damaged boy who tries to be hard but hasn’t really got him in it, while Estrella is nails.

This is a very sad tale which has really opened my eyes to the trauma suffered by children forced to live with nothing on the streets. The end made me weep like a goddamn baby but I loved it.

4/5

What does my own little tiger think if this one? Would she set up home with it on the roof or leave it to starve? Find out here.

Paint It Black

A Free for All after the excitement of October’s Horror Month and we appear to have naturally landed on another very dark movie to kick it off. Another horror if you will. I’m not complaining though, especially since this one stars one of my faves.

Paint It Black (2016)

“A young woman attempts to deal with the death of her boyfriend while continuously confronted by his mentally unstable mother.”

Director: Amber Tamblyn
Stars: Alia Shawkat, Simon Helberg, Janet McTeer, Alfred Molina

By all accounts the book that inspired this adaptation is fantastic. The film is fine, gorgeous to look at and very moody but there’s not much to it really.

Josie (Shawkat) is pissed off with her boyfriend Michael who’s been ignoring her for a couple of days. So she goes out drinking with her girlfriend to take her mind off things. Outside the apartment she shares with Michael (Rhys Wakefield), she realises she is being watched by a middle-aged women in an expensive car. Michael’s mother Meredith.

The morning after a heavy night out, Josie finds out why Michael has gone so silent. After checking himself into a motel under the alias Oscar Wilde, he has taken his own life. The bottom falls out of Josie’s world but she barely has time to register the news before Meredith (McTeer) is on the phone making cruel accusations about who’s fault her son’s suicide is.

At the funeral, Meredith attacks Josie and Michael’s father Cal steps in, sweeping her away for some post-funeral drinks. At the bar Cal admits that it’s always really been Michael and Meredith, with him considered the interloper. After realising that Meredith is still following her, Josie goes to her house and the pair get drunk together. Josie tries to leave but she’s too pissed and wakes up in Meredith’s guestroom. When Meredith finds her looking around Michael’s old room, she screams at Josie to get out.

Later the pair dine together and Josie permits Meredith to visit their shared apartment afterwards but forbids her from taking anything home with her. So begins an unsettling back and forth as the women compete for the prize of Michael; of his memory, his possessions and the right to grieve. Meredith clears out the apartment of everything and Josie steals it back – later Josie accuses Meredith of trying to kill her.

This twisted relationship comes to a head when Meredith makes Josie a peculiar offer that has the power to change her life forever. What will she do?

Well. This is a slow burner. It’s not bad – I mean there’s a lot of strong imagery and it’s very stylish – I just wish it had done more. Josie is starring in some sort of amateur movie project that looks pretentious AF and is being directed by Howard Wolowitz of The Big Bang Theory. She looks great because she’s Alia Shawkat and Shawkat is born to be filmed in low golden LA light (and in delicious vintage clothing) at all times.

There’s a sadness that permeates everything and I have sympathy for both the central characters, despite the fact neither of them are very likeable. Meredith is on the edge but it’s hardly surprising. As a girl her father drowned himself in the family pool, so she’s no stranger to suicide when her son kills himself. Josie doesn’t seem to have much direction herself and shares the history of her relationship with us via deeply photogenic flashbacks. We don’t really know much about the enigmatic Michael and that’s okay, really this is a movie about the women in his life and I like it for that.

Personally, I would have holed up with Meredith and accepted the lavish lifestyle she was offering. Who needs freedom of choice and moving on when you have designer frocks and dinner parties on tap? I jest obviously, and Josie does the right thing.

I’ll probably not think of this movie again honestly but it wasn’t a bad way to spend 98 minutes.

3/5

What does my love think of Paint It Black? Would she run away and live with it in a massive creepy house or drive away as quickly as possible? Find out here.

31 Horrors 2019 – The List

the-furies-image-01
The Furies

A cheeky little recap of all the films we watched this October. Phew. I’m (almost) all horror’d out.

Almost.

  1. The Grudge (2004) – 2.5/5
  2. Wrong Turn (2003) – 4/5
  3. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009) – 3.5/5
  4. You’re Next (2011) – 4.5/5
  5. In the Tall Grass (2019) – 0.5/5
  6. The Furies (2019) – 3.5/5
  7. Hell House LLC (2015) – 4.5/5
  8. Satanic Panic (2019) – 4/5
  9. 3 From Hell (2019) – 3/5
  10. The Curse of La Llorona (2019) – 3.5/5

    House of Wax
  11. House of Wax (2005) – 4/5
  12. The Cleaning Lady (2018) – 3.5/5
  13. Little Monsters (2019) – 3.5/5
  14. Mayhem (2017) – 3/5
  15. Final Destination (2000) – 4/5
  16. The Blair Witch Project (1999) – 5/5
  17. The Visit (2015) – 4/5
  18. Trick ‘r Treat (2007) – 4.5/5
  19. Tone Deaf (2019) – 3/5
  20. Wounds (2019) – 3/5
  21. Prom Night (1980) – 3.5/5

    Prom Night
  22. The House of the Devil (2009) – 4/5
  23. Scream (1996) – 5/5
  24. Drag Me to Hell (2009) – 4.5/5
  25. Mandy (2018) – 5/5
  26. Trash Fire (2016) – 3.5/5
  27. The Exorcist (1973) – 5/5
  28. The Hills Have Eyes (2006) – 4/5
  29. Countdown (2019) – 3.5/5
  30. Halloween (1978) – 4/5
  31. Halloween (2018) – 4/5
Drag Me to Hell

To recap:

Not one but two Richard Bates Jr. movies, who knew? Not nearly enough Stephen King though there is one very bad one on this list. A lot of new films from this year, a classic turn from Prince of Peculiar Nicholas Cage (Mandy is a masterpiece) – and an Exorcist revisit.

2 Halloweens – 40 years apart – and I almost prefer the newer one, not going to lie. Strong cameos from horror gems Babak Anvari, Alexandre Aja and Ti West. One low-key Shyamalan horror which absolutely slaps.

Sarah Michelle Gellar absolutely wasted in a remake nobody needed or asked for. A classically meta Wes Craven nightmare – and lots more besides.

Bring on #31 Horror 2020.

Countdown

If you could find out exactly when you’re going to die… would you want to know?


This movie has such a lame title I completely forgot what it was called when I went to buy the ticket. In the UK we have a quintessentially British quiz show of the same name – which tests vocabulary and mathematic skill against the clock – and I just can’t with it. Despite the fact the film isn’t that bad, it loses one point off the bat for the title.

When a nurse downloads an app that claims to predict the moment a person will die, it tells her she only has three days to live. With the clock ticking and a figure haunting her, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.

Countdown

*Spoilers*

My Review

Some kids at a party accidentally stumble across a phone app called Countdown and, for a laugh, all decide to download it at once. The app as you know if you’ve read the above synopsis tells you how much longer you have to live. The kids decide that the loser (aka the person with the least life left) has to drink everyone else’s booze. Alas, Courtney draws the short straw in this sicko game with mere hours to live.

Well no prizes for guessing who won’t have to worry about a hangover in the morning: the app doesn’t fuck around and more than that eerily eludes to the fact that you can’t cheat death if your time is really up. Which is something I think we’ve heard before…

Countdown is a sort of Final Destination/Happy Death Day hybrid (though not as good as either) but I was quite pleasantly surprised by it anyway.



When newly qualified nurse Quinn Harris (You‘s Elizabeth Lail) learns about Countdown from one of her patients – Evan, boyfriend of our first victim – she stupidly downloads it without a care in the world. It’s something she grows to regret when it tells her she only has a few days left.

And when Evan’s own fate it revealed, she starts to believe there might be something more to the app than it just being a silly prank. Add to the mix sexual harassment in the form of a smarmy doctor and family stuff, Quinn ain’t having the best few days but she’s willing to try everything to turn back the clock.

Unfortunately, her first thought – to simply get a new phone – is not the one, so she’s forced to get increasingly  creative.

When she teams up with Matt, another Countdown victim, they try technology AND religion to save themselves – and the life of Quinn’s annoying little sister Jordan. Will any of their hare-brained schemes work?



Honestly, it’s very silly and a little bit loose on the old folklore but we’re not here for realism, are we? I kind of love how it escalates – and becomes a completely different film to the one I expected. The main demon guy is dreamy af and I love his particular brand of mischief, as he tortures the dead victims to be.

There are some brilliant side characters in the form of Tech Guy and the crazy demonologist/priest which went a long way to keeping this interesting and Lail is very good as Quinn. In fact, she is a likeable and well-rounded final girl who probably didn’t need the tragic backstory she was given.

In contrast I did like the shit-head doctor (sort of) getting his comeuppance but the climax is a little sloppy. Generally I could have done with more killings in more creative ways too.

Otherwise this movie was fun and stupid and exactly what you need on a Monday night straight from work.

Film details:

Starring: Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Eliana Bateman
Director: Justin Dec
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 5.4/10
My Rating: 3.5/5

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